| Cult of Mac

Mountain Lion’s New Security Update Feature – Good For Users, A Potential Headache for IT

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Will Mountain Lion's new security system be a hit or a miss for schools and businesses?
Will Mountain Lion's new security system be a hit or a miss for schools and businesses?

Following the Flashback malware scare this spring, Apple is stepping up its focus on security and malware protection in Mountain Lion. The release notes for the latest Mountain Lion developer preview include references to a “new Mountain Lion Security Updates system” that checks for security updates on a daily basis, uses a more secure connection when communicating with Apple’s update servers, and can install required updates automatically when a Mac is restarted.

Based on the release notes for the system, Apple is making the security update process automatic and has designed it to  runs as a system process rather than a user task. Presumably that means it will function without a user logged in or while non-admin users are logged in. All in all, that’s similar to Microsoft’s Windows update feature and a good thing for users.

That doesn’t mean that this setup will be great fit for businesses, schools, and other organizations with large Mac populations.

New Mobile Management Decisions Help Companies Reconsider IT Strategies

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Choosing a mobile management vendor can open doors to rethinking IT strategies and goals
Choosing a mobile management vendor can open doors to rethinking IT strategies and goals

We’ve profiled a range of companies and products during our Mobile Management Month event. One of the things that seems to stand out to some readers is the number of companies that offer mobile management as part of a larger set of enterprise and IT solutions. Integrated solutions are nothing new to IT. The cultural shift of mobile devices and BYOD programs, however, have many organizations wondering whether to go with an integrated  or branch out into new territory and use a range of deployment, management, and monitoring tools for desktop systems as well as mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad.

WWDC Alternative European MacSysAdmin Conference Opens Registration

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Europe's MacSysAdmin 2012 Offers Four Days of Apple/Enterprise training
Europe's MacSysAdmin 2012 Offers Four Days of Apple/Enterprise training

WWDC may have sold out quickly, but as we reported there are alternative events for IT professionals  and developers that want to network and hone their skills. One of those is the annual European Macintosh System Administrators Meeting, which began accepting registrations this week for this year’s event, which will be held in Sweden this September.

Unlike WWDC, MacSysAdmin isn’t intended for developers as much as it is IT professionals that need to deploy and manage Apple technologies in business and education.

The Crucial Skills Every Mac IT Pro Needs [Feature]

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Mac IT specialists need a unique set of skills and knowledge
Mac IT specialists need a unique set of skills and knowledge

Recent data shows that nearly half of all companies offer or provide Macs to employees and that the Macs represent about 7% computers in the workplace. That’s according to a Forrester report that was issued last month and that prompted me to write a feature about how deploying and managing large Mac populations in enterprise environments differs significantly from supporting a handful of Macs.

In that that article, I covered a lot of the tools IT departments rely on to handle large scale Mac deployments. Knowing what those tools are is a great starting point, but there are also several key skills that IT professionals managing and/or supporting Macs in business need regardless of whether they’re dealing with a half dozen Macs or upwards of a thousand.

Parallels Enterprise Makes Mass Windows On Mac Deployments Easy [Feature]

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Parallels offers tools and guidance for mass Windows on Mac deployments
Parallels offers tools and guidance for mass Windows on Mac deployments

Deploying a large number of Macs with a full load of software can be a challenge for any organization. There are, of course, tools that help ease the process of both initial roll outs as well as software installation or updates.

If Mac users also need the ability to run Windows apps,however, there’s an extra layer of complexity. IT departments need to to get Windows onto each Mac, configured, and joined to enterprise systems in an efficient manner. Adding to the challenge Windows on Mac deployments add to the good  amount of additional data that needs to be deployed – more than doubling it in some situations.

Configurator Makes iPhone, iPad Roll Outs Easier Even When It’s Not Managing Them

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JAMF offers up ways to integrate its MDM suite with Apple Configurator
JAMF offers up ways to integrate its MDM suite with Apple Configurator

Recently, we’ve been highlighting some of the major partnerships that are beginning to form between mobile management and mobile/cloud services vendors. These partnerships are strategic and aim to enable IT workflows that better secure, support, and monitor iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices than what any one company could offer. So far, these partnerships and the integration of solutions that they offer haven’t included Apple or the basic management tools that Apple makes available for free – until now.

Mac and iOS management provider JAMF has posted a guide to integrating the company’s signature solution with Apple’s free Configurator tool to streamline iOS deployment.

Thousands of Macs In The Enterprise – How The Big Companies Roll [Feature]

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Managing hundreds or thousands of Macs in big companies requires the right skills and the right tools
Managing hundreds or thousands of Macs in big companies requires the right skills and tools

 

Last week I took a brief look at how managing a handful of Macs differs from managing dozens or hundreds or even thousands of Macs. Some readers asked how big companies like Apple, Google, Viacom, or IBM actually go about managing large numbers of Macs – both in terms of the tools they use and in terms of how their IT processes differ from supporting Macs in small businesses.

I can’t speak for how Apple manages the Macs of its thousands of employees, but I have worked with several large companies as a Mac IT professional – along with a number of schools and colleges, government agencies, and small businesses. Here’s a look at the tools and processes that they use to configure, deploy, and manage Macs on a grand scale.

Be A Savvy App Shopper: Tips For Getting Apps For Less

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Photo by {Flixelpix} David - http://flic.kr/p/9BzXiy
Photo by {Flixelpix} David - http://flic.kr/p/9BzXiy

There are now over 500,000 iPhone apps and 170,000 iPad apps available on Apple’s App Store and that number will surely continue to increase as new app developers enter the foray. In March 2012 Apple’s App Store surpassed its 25 billionth download. If you’re not already buying apps regularly, you probably will be soon. Here are some tips that may help you save some money on your App Store purchases.

Is Apple Configurator The Right Tool For Your Business?

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Apple Configurator - Is it right for your school or business?
Apple Configurator - Is it right for your school or business?

One of the first things most IT folks will think about Apple Configurator is that it’s pretty limited compared to some of the mobile device management suites on the market (including Apple’s Profile Manager in Lion Server). MDM suites are designed to make device management as easy, automatic, and wireless as possible. Most include robust monitoring and reporting features – virtually all can use Apple’s push notification system to update a managed device at any time.

Configurator, on the other hand, requires connecting each iOS device to a Mac using a USB cable to perform any administrative tasks like configuring device settings, assigning a device to a user, installing apps, or updating iOS. That means that Configurator isn’t appropriate for a lot of businesses or workplace situations. Yet, for some organizations, Configurator is a more ideal tool than most MDM suites because of its hands-on approach.

So, what kinds of environments is Apple Configurator suited to?

Use Configurator To Roll-Out iOS Devices To Your Users – The Right Way [How-To]

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Apple Configurator's Intro Screen
Apple Configurator's Intro Screen

Apple Configurator is a new free tool that let’s you manage iOS devices in business or education settings. The app can be used simply as an initial deployment tool or as an ongoing management solution. It’s particularly well suited to environments where iPads and other iOS devices will be shared among multiple users since it can be used in “lending library” fashion with users checking out devices because Configurator backs up user data on check-in and applies to a new device on check-out.

This guide covers each part of Configurator  with step-by-step instructions.